Folks who are planning to attend the 2011 Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s Guardian Angel Dinner Dance Sept. 23 are going to notice a few changes.
Besides the fact that the event will be in a new venue – The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village – they will also see some new faces mingling among the crowd: Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who will be there for the first time as the diocese’s new chief shepherd; Marlene Lao-Collins, as the agency’s new executive director, and Sister Joanne Dress, who serves on Bishop O’Connell’s cabinet as the newly appointed executive director of Catholic Social Services.
But, even in the midst of some change, the main goal of the Guardian Angel gala, which is now in its 22nd year, is still the same – it is Catholic Charities’ signature event and, as a major fundraiser, it helps to support the many works of Catholic Charities throughout the four-county Diocese of Trenton.
In past years, the gala, on average, has drawn a throng of more than 600 Catholic Charities staff and supporters and has generated more than $200,000 in income. The funds are primarily directed to the agency’s Emergency Services program which does not receive government funding. This year’s anticipated goal is $235,000.
Looking forward to attending her first Guardian Angel Dinner Dance, Sister Joanne, who is a member of the Daughters of Charity, said: “As someone who is new to the Diocese of Trenton, I have had the opportunity to visit some of the Catholic Charities sites. I have been impressed with the dedication of the staff, the breadth of services that they provide throughout the diocese and the impact that these services have on those in need, especially those most vulnerable in our midst.”
What is also special about the annual GADD is that it provides the occasion for Catholic Charities to honor women and men from throughout the diocese who have given of themselves to help those most in need.
Those to be honored with awards are: Francis E. Dolan, recipient of the Richard J. Hughes Humanitarian Award; Betty Jean Byrnes, Burlington County Light of Hope Award; Pat and Margaret Walsh, Mercer County Light of Hope Award; Thomas P. Coyle, Monmouth County Light of Hope Award, and St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, Ocean County Light of Hope Award.
V.J. Scozzari & Sons, Inc., will receive the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award, and Kiasha Carson, will be presented with the Client Achievement Award.
Francis E. Dolan retired after a 23-year career as the executive director of Catholic Charities.
He joined Catholic Charities in 1988 and during his tenure he was instrumental in helping the agency to significantly expand its services, which currently provides support and resources to more than 100,000 individuals throughout the four-county diocese each year.
Under Dolan’s direction, the agency increased from a $7 million organization with 110 employees to a $42 million organization with more than 600 employees. Dolan was also responsible for positioning Catholic Charities to become more competitive through initiatives such as the development of the agency-wide Quality Improved Program that has been used as a model by the Council on Accreditation and for developing a financial management strategy that was recently recognized by NJBIZ as part of its Non-Profit Innovation Awards program. In addition, while Dolan was at the helm, Catholic Charities was recognized as one of the premiere human service agencies in New Jersey offering a broad continuum of behavioral health and social services to the community.
Dolan and his wife of 38 years, Lena, are the parents of three children and they have four grandchildren. Now in retirement, Dolan enjoys traveling, spending time with his grandchildren and serving on the adjunct faculty at the Rutgers School of Social Work in Camden, where he has served since 2006.
Upon learning that he had been named the recipient of this year’s Richard J. Hughes Humanitarian Award, a humbled Dolan said: “To be the executive director (of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton) was a blessing that in many ways has seemed too good to be true.”
“Catholic Charities is a direct reflection of the social justice mandate of the Gospel that calls us to work on fixing this broken world. To be able to work every day knowing that this was the very purpose of my job has been a gift,” he said.
Betty Jean Byrnes involvement with Catholic Charities began in 1995 when she became a volunteer with Providence House Domestic Violence Services in Burlington County.
For the past 16 years, she has also served as a member of the planning committee of The Taste of Burlington County, Providence House’s annual fundraising event as well as a member of Catholic Charities’ Burlington County Board. During her tenure on the board, she chaired the Parish Outreach Committee which was designed to educate the parishes of Burlington County regarding the wide scope of programs and services offered by Catholic Charities to help parishioners in need.
Byrnes’ educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and a master’s degree in counseling from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). She and her husband, Vince, are the parents of three children. She is a member of Corpus Christi Parish, Willingboro, and has been involved in a number of ministries including as a reader for Mass since 1971 and as a catechist for Confirmation students. She is also a member of the parish’s seniors’ club.
Pat and Margaret Walsh have been longtime supporters of Catholic Charities. They have sponsored past Guardian Angel Dinner Dances and funded the agency’s annual Sponsor ‘Thank You’ breakfasts. Together, they have provided continuous support for El Centro, the Trenton-based, multi-family community support and building program that is specifically geared to meeting the needs of Latino families in Mercer County, and Emergency and Community Services. In addition, Pat Walsh served on the agency’s board of trustees for eight years.
Both Pat and Margaret were born and raised in northern Virginia and are graduates of the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, where they received bachelor’s degrees in sociology. They were married in 1966 and are the parents of three children.
The couple currently split their time living in Florida during the winter and New Jersey during the summer. They are parishioners of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Skillman, and Holy Cross Parish, Vero Beach, Fla.
Tom Coyle’s involvement with Catholic Charities evolved when he retired to the Jersey Shore area and his daughter-in-law, who was employed by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, mentioned to him that the agency was in need of marketing assistance, and urged him to contact the agency.
In 2002, Tom starting working with Francis E. Dolan, then Catholic Charities’ executive director, and other service area leaders to develop a new approach to grassroots marketing at the county level. With help from agency management, he created and piloted the role of director of Community Affairs to rejuvenate and develop each county’s board. He specifically worked with the boards of Monmouth and Ocean Counties until 2007, and was able to assist in raising more than $2 million for Catholic Charities.
Coyle serves as a member of Catholic Charities’ Monmouth County Board and is a member of the choir at St. Denis Parish, Manasquan.
Coyle and his wife of 47 years, Pat, are the parents of two children and they have four grandchildren.
St. Aloysius Parish – In the 11 years that he has been pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, Father Scott Shaffer has been instrumental in having his parishioners become more involved in terms of outreach.
In October, 2004, he called for the establishment of a St. Vincent de Paul Society conference in the parish, and each year since, the society has assisted approximately 1,400 people in the Jackson community.
One of the longest collaborative outreach efforts that had developed over the years is between the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference and Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities has provided support to the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference through Catholic Charities Parish Emergency Assistance Program (PEAP).
The parish also works with Catholic Charities during various holiday seasons. Last year, 100 parish volunteers collected and distributed 814 Thanksgiving dinners in the community with 150 of the dinners given to Catholic Charities for distribution. Additionally, 240 families benefited from the parish’s participation in Catholic Charities’ Adopt-a-Family program, where the students of St. Aloysius School actively participate.
Lastly, thanks to the efforts of Ronnie Perrry, director of faith formation at St. Aloysius, and Mary Pettrow, an employee of Catholic Charities’ Providence House Domestic Violence Services, the parish’s Giving Tree project each Advent provides hundreds of gifts to Providence House clients and families in need.
V.J. Scozzari and Sons, Inc., is based in Hopewell, and has been responsible for the construction and management of a wide variety of commercial, retail, financial, industrial, institutional, religious and healthcare projects since its founding. The projects have ranged from new facilities, to the retrofit of buildings including tenant fit-out work, complete renovations and historical restorations. The firm’s operations include construction management, general construction and design/build services.
V.J. Scozzari & Sons, Inc., is very involved in many local community and civic organizations, including the support of youth groups, activities and sports. The firm strongly supports Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, through food drives, Christmas donations, and through active involvement in the Guardian Angel Dinner Dance.
Kiasha Carson, this year’s Client Achievement Award recipient, had a 15- year history with substance abuse before she entered Catholic Charities’ Project FREE program.
After completing a six-month in-patient program with the Monmouth County Drug Court Program, she was required to attend Project FREE’s Intensive Out-Patient program. At that point, she was facing a five-year prison term for violating her probation and had lost custody of her eight children.
The support groups at Project FREE empowered Carson to change for the better. With the encouragement of the counselors, Carson was able to pursue her GED, seek employment , quit smoking, obtain a driver’s license and go to college. Most importantly, the counselors encouraged her to fight for custody of her children.
Carson successfully graduated from Project FREE in November, 2004. Today, she has custody of her eight children, is happily married, holds a degree from Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and is looking forward to beginning Monmouth University’s Advanced Standing Master’s of Social Work Program. She works part-time as an in-home parent mentor.
Tweet this story[[In-content Ad]]